Billionaire David Harding's £100m gift to Cambridge University

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Punting on the River Cam
Image caption,
Former student David Harding's gift to Cambridge is the biggest single British donation to a UK university

A hedge fund billionaire has donated £100m to Cambridge University.

The donation from David Harding, via his foundation, is the biggest single gift made to a university in the UK by a British philanthropist.

The money will fund postgraduate scholarships for more than 100 PhD students and be invested in attracting students from "under-represented groups".

Vice-chancellor Prof Stephen J Toope said it was "extraordinarily generous".

Image source, Cambridge University
Image caption,
The David and Claudia Harding Foundation funds scientific research and education

A university spokesman said the David and Claudia Harding Foundation donation would help propel the £500m fundraising drive launched last autumn to attract and support postgraduate and undergraduate students from the UK and around the world.

Mr Harding founded the global investment management firm, Winton. His wife, Claudia is a trustee of the Science Museum Foundation.

A £79m slice of the funding will go towards scholarships for more than 100 PhD students in residence, starting in October, around £25m of which will go to St Catharine's College, where Mr Harding studied natural sciences.

Prof Sir Mark Welland, Master of St Catharine's College, said the investment would "have a tremendous and permanent impact" on the university as a whole.

'Nurture talent'

The remaining £21m will go towards undergraduate support and encourage further alumni philanthropy - £1m of which will also be invested in attracting students from "under-represented groups".

Prof Toope said the gift would "transform the lives of students".

"This extraordinarily generous gift will be invaluable in sustaining Cambridge's place among the world's leading universities and will help to transform our offer to students," he said.

"We are determined that Cambridge should nurture the finest academic talent, whatever the background or means of our students."

Cambridge University has already set a target to increase the number of postgraduates in residence by 13 per cent from 6,500 in 2016-17 to about 7,400 by the end of 2021.

The largest single donation to a British university prior to Mr Harding's was in 2000, when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $210m (£161m) to Cambridge University.

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